Has research been done to prove forensic telepsychiatry works? What’s the evidence base?

Yes, telepsychiatry has been comparable to in-person care among inmates in jail, prison, and correctional facilities. Video visits with telepsychiatric evaluations are used used to treat inmates with a variety of psychiatric illness in a range of severity, including severe mental illness. Decades of studies demonstrates telepsychiatry’s usefulness.

Vacancies and staffing issues in correctional facilities can impact access to care. Physical space requirements, security requirements, and correctional work culture pressures discourage healthcare providers from working in the correctional facility environment.

Telepsychiatry fills these vacancies, can ease burden on clinicians and providers, and takes less physical space than having more personnel on-site.

With the adoption of telepsychiatry, inmates can be seen early in their incarceration. Patient satisfaction has been shown to be high in forensic psychiatric patients with remote video visits. Acceptability has additionally shown to be high amongst jail personnel.

A meta-analysis — a study of multiple studies — looked at telepsychiatry used in acute settings, including inpatient units. They showed that the quality of clinical interaction is similar to in-person face-to-face encounters, and that telepsychiatry has been cost-effective.

Sources:

  • Kaftarian, Edward. "Lessons Learned in Prison and Jail-Based Telepsychiatry." Current psychiatry reports 21.3 (2019): 15.
  • Salmoiraghi A, Hussain S: "A Systematic Review of the Use of Telepsychiatry in Acute Settings" Journal of Psychiatric Practice. 2015; 21 (5):389-93
  • Brodey et al, 2000. Satisfaction of forensic psychiatry patients with remote telepsychiatric evaluation. Psych Services: Oct 51(10): 1305-7.
  • Leonard S: "The Successes and Challenges of Developing a Prison Telepsychiatry Service" Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2004; 10 (S1): 69-71
  • Zaylor C, Whitten P, Kingsley C: "Telemedicine Services to a County Jail" Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2000; 6 (S1): 93-95
Last updated on 9th October 2020
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